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Organization Serving People since 1988
-When you work for OSP; OSP will work for you-
This paper is about organizational communication. Different concepts are explained through the description of a company. Although it describes the services offered, it will illustrate the main factors that contribute to good performance from the past to a solid future. First of all, there is an important explanation about how the different departments receive the information about tasks, how members relate information between each other, with the central management, and with the customers.
2. Perspective on the Company from the Past
It all began twelve years ago when three friends decided along with their normal jobs to get together and offer general house maintenance for families on the weekends.
An experienced carpenter, a young mechanic, and a recent graduate in organizational communication shared their knowledge and learned from each other’s fields to offer the best work and services they could. They decided after months of good income to quit their jobs and to work only for their company recently created-- OSP. an organization serving people.
2.1. Services Offered
All services were offered at the consumers’ homes. Main duties were mainly to repair and maintain housing equipment. Repairing, remodeling, cleaning and yard work were very common tasks. In addition, there were more and more demands on car repair and maintenance. The main idea of those services was to accomplish what people did not get the chance to do. The reason why the demands became higher was because the clients could go and come back from work, spending more time with their families and having more free time than before. No more company appointments or having to leave their car at the garage for a few days. Asking OSP to maintain things around the house for an affordable price was more and more common. They were taking care of what before was onerous and disturbing time better spent with family and work. OSP was taking excess stress away from the clients.
2.2. Communication Systems
At first when the three companions decided to create OSP, they had a typical lateral communication system. As soon as they received an order, they met or called each other. They discussed what the task was about and let the most competent member accomplish it. For more demanding tasks, even though they were clueless about each other’s fields, they would usually work together to accomplish any maintenance jobs the people needed.
2.3. Organizational Structure
The young graduate in organizational communication took the order. Then he shared the information with the others. There were no commands, all decisions were made democratically. In fact they all shared the same vision and were at the same time very tightly coupled.
2.4. Communication Quality
What made this company successful was not only the high working competence, but the quality of communication they had. The strong relationships, their sense of community, care, and trust were the main factors for the first members to work well together. OSP, Inc. did not get limited only to the three founding members; the numbers of services increased as the number of new departments increased. Hendrickson and Psarouthakis (1998) suggest some important key factors that did contribute to the good communication qualities at OSP. The two authors suggest that the members should be well informed about the organization’s structure. The commands should follow through a clear chain. At OSP the secretary receives the order, then she/he informs the main manager of the department concerned. After that, the manager will explain to the member the task to accomplish. Another important factor is that the main manager lets members of any level know clearly the performance standards. It is important sometimes to remind the members of their role definitions. The managers should take the time to talk with the members about their philosophy, value, and mission (125).
2.5. Environmental Information
Since the beginning, OSP.. tried to never forget how the customer should be put in first place in its ideology. According to his bookLet’s Work Smarter, not Harder, Caravatta reminds that understanding the needs of all customers regardless if their needs are large or small. Customers enjoy the personal attention, “to receive services that are of high quality, low cost, provided as wanted, and being served in the shortest possible time” (1997,60). At first, OSP had difficulty attracting customers what with larger companies more able to afford extravagant television and radio advertisements. When they had customers, members offered them services that gave them attention by talking with them. Caravatta stated that “ it costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to retain one you already have.“ (1997, 56).
2.6. Diversity in the Company
Although all three had graduated from the same high school, they were of differing religions and none from the same ethnic group.
2.7. Growing Process of the Company
At the beginning only friends asked the little company to perform some maintenance on their car or house on weekends. Because of the excellent job quality, more and more people got interested in those convenient services. The three either helped each other or worked individually. They met once a week to make the point and find new ideas to serve in a better way. The company changed and grew fast. It only slightly affects the health of the organization, because basically all members had the opportunity to look for new members themselves. E.g. when an accountant, chauffeur, or electrician thought that there was no way to continue with such high customer demands, they themselves would seek a competent new member. After the newcomer was presented to other members of the department concerned, she/he had to have a three-week-trial period full time before being officially hired.
3. Perspective on the Company from the Present
Today OSP employs about two hundred members. They serve people in the way they did at the beginning except with a higher range of services offered.
3.1. Members’ Function & Diversity in the Company
There are today a high variety of new jobs active at OSP. Chauffeurs, accountants, secretaries, cooks, babysitters, nannies and parents’ helpers, installers, repairers and servicers, organizational consultants, doctors, and counselors are just some of the services offered. Most of those jobs are still oriented to offer services to the customers and to the members, but now the creative designers and craft persons have been included to the group in order to develop diversity in the company. They actually create and design original decorations. They will be created by mentally and physically challenged people. Unemployed people willing to work are welcome to have free training in order to become member. Organizational communication consultants are offered training at different levels. They teach interpersonal and leadership skills. They organize company meetings; they serve customers by organizing parties, shows, conferences, and concerts. The main managers occupy an important position-- they all possess a degree in organizational communication and at least a three-year apprenticeship in the trade they manage.
3.2. Services Offered to the Customers and to Themselves (Chart in Figure 1.1)
Since its creation OSP continued to serve and help individuals, families, groups in all domestic purposes. Those services included any building, garden, and vehicle maintenance. With more specialized members it lets the company organize and realize shows, conferences, concerts, and parties. Orders can be placed all day, all night, all year. In fact OSP has recently felt the need to hire doctors, counselors, parents’ helpers, and nannies. All the new jobs that have been offered helped to match with the former members. The members do not make a living working only in their professions; however, in order to give them more comfortable private lives, they enjoy services given by other members. In real life, a doctor may need his garden fence to be restored while the carpenter needs his ill children examined. This system works well, because members know and trust each other; they understand clearly that if someone working in counseling may need to have his car checked, but the mechanic may not need a counselors’ help. However, the counselor may be very good at languages and will provide the mechanic’s children with some help for school. In the long run, without receiving a bill or being charged, all members fulfill directly or indirectly any desire or wish they would ever realize!
3.3. Communication Systems
At the beginning OSP was not mainly concentrated on its communication qualities between its members. Self – managed OSP, Inc. had to adopt some very similar values as W.L Gore & Associates1 has.
Description in four main points:
1. Be Fair
2. Encourage, help and allow other associates to learn and gain skills and responsibility
3. Allow associates to makes commitments and keep them
4. Consult with others before taking actions that can affect the company’s health
The fast growth of OSP did not let the members get to know each other as well as before. At the real beginning and even after five years, the members could always meet informally and socialize. Members liked to meet newcomers and so on until the variety of departments and new jobs oriented led the company to divide itself into many groups and get to know each other better. At this point, OSP built a recreational center and a restaurant. Now, members have the opportunity to meet other members from other departments and their families. Members meet each other, exchange their knowledge, learn from each other, help or work for each other. A strong relationship has been built through informal communication.
3.4. Organizational Structure (Chart in Figure 1.2)
In their bookHot groups,Lipman-Blumen and Leavitt describe perfectly the way leadership issues are viewed at OSP... Members are very busy on the achievement of their tasks, they do not have much time to think about who should command! Being trained on multitask abilities, some members besides their main job, will propose meeting schedules and circulating agendas. Some other members like to plan social events. Members regard leadership as shared, depending on who called the meeting or set the agenda (1999, 79-80). Purser and Cabana support the idea of leadership roles being rotated or shifted to different members depending on the nature of the task (1998, 103).
3.5. Communication Quality
The conception of the organizational structure illustrated above best describes the communication quality between members and even with the customers. My idea was to combine the three organizational structures: vertical, horizontal, and ideological described by Volberda (1998, 116). Through the WEB structure downward, upward, and lateral communication is promoted. Volberda (1998) explains that the combination of the three structures gives the company the capability to adapt to the demands of the environment by being flexible internally and letting the company influence the environment in order to become less vulnerable to their changes (117).
3.6. Environmental Information
A simple questionnaire is given to all customers at the same time they would get their bill. This is a good way to verify if the bill they have to pay is related to their satisfaction with the service offered. Another way currently used to assess the satisfaction of the customer is the evaluation given to the members. In his bookLet’s Work Smarter, not Harder,Caravatta suggest some effective questions that could be asked to the member.
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According to their bookAction Learning, Dotlich and Noel confirmed that customers do not always know what they want. It is important for leaders to listen and respond to customers by interpreting what they would really need and find the conception of a new service (1998, 174). Koulopoulos (1997) wrote about the importance in tracking the profile of the customers in order to find new and better services (213). When there is something new in the company, the customer should get to know it.
3.7. Technological Communication System
Email accounts are offered to every member. It gives them the possibility to contact other members or give and receive feedback from their managers. The Internet is now used in order for OSP to relay its homepage. Koulopoulos (1997) explains that by counting how many people clicked each site they liked the most, it is possible to monitor their interest better (213).
- Improve and keep relationships between customers, suppliers, members and managers
- Conflict management
- Communication skills training
- Self-management principle training
- Task distribution checking
- Assess creativity from the members in order change and improve services
3.9. Growing process of the company
The system of hiring plays an important role on the growth of the company. In fact the same system has been kept since the company’s creation. OSP, Inc. hire proportionally with the amount of tasks demanded. In their bookDynamic Management of Growing Firms,both authors Handrickdon and Psarouthakis express how important it is for fast growing companies to hire specialized technical or professionally trained staff. So if members of OSP. present to the company a possible highly skilled newcomer, as Handrickdon and Psarouthakis said that those new members could cut some of the company’s profits but in a longer term it will actually boost the level of current members’ technical skills (1998, 156). As a supporting comment from Doug McKenna, head of the Human Resources Planning by Microsoft, written in the bookThe Self Managing Organization,that it is consequential to hire smart people who can learn on the job. He said that to build a good self-managed company “the new member should be given tasks as broad as they can handle, and to let them work alongside mentors that can guide them through the informal networks”. Later the same people will be able to make their own decisions, defining the scope of their job, hiring new members, and training the new members (1998, 10). In the same book, the two author Purser and Cabana underline the fact that to have multiskilled members help the company especially when a member is absent, the other member will be able to assume their tasks (1998, 100). As soon as the company got bigger, just to do a good quality job was not enough. Although some form of advertisements were created by professionals, one of the cheapest and effective ways to promote their services, was that key chains, stickers, t-shirts, hats, and brochures are provided to members to be given away. The children of the customers or other interested persons enjoy receiving free stuff during informal situations at the OSP restaurants. In their bookHot Groups,Lipman-Blumen and Leavitt support this idea that companies (hot groups) should create self-defining symbols, such as mottoes and t-shirts (1999, 63). Members enjoy giving their time for this action because of the bonus fifty free hours paid before their first salary of each new coming year. This principle is to show them that they are not being used simply to get some work done. This is more to show them that the company first is happy to have somebody new. It empowers them to tell what in their opinion does not work correctly, or to suggest what could be done in a better way or differently in the future.
4. Perspective on the company to the future
The best way to predict the future is to create it.
- Peter F. Drucker
In the future OSP, Inc. has the desire to keep its organization structure, communication system, and its communication quality. However, there are some points to be changed, created, and improved.
They are going to have members working abroad. The member exchange is going to be common. Research labs are going to take place in order to improve services effectively and efficiently.
4.2. Services Offered
Accident prevention and emergency plan are going to be developed, car insurance, and rent plan for members will be better organized. Most of services will be presented through the Internet and offered all over the wold.
4.4. Technological Communication System
In order to development the company abroad, it will need a very good computer network program. In his bookThe Digital Organization, Best claims that the delivery of computer systems involves people, not technology. Even if the managers do not understand much about technology, they know how to deal with people (1997, 161).
Besides the different training I will still offer, I will concentrate on research. The main topics for research would be how much should OSP.Inc. grow? Should OSP.. develop more services?
4.8. Growing Process of the Company
It is important to offer new services to customers, but there are some important issues that should be taken care of in order for the members to grow not only inside but also in the sense of offering others more and better services. Hendrickson and Psarouthakis (1998) are suggesting that a continuing education should be offered to the members. By being continually educated and trained it will raise their working motivation and abilities (149). The two authors of theDynamic Management of Growing Firmsunderline some ways to develop supervisory and technical skills for the managers and the other members. After the members and managers receive certain job training, they should show newcomers how to perform what they learned. Another way is that when the members of the company meet, they should talk about management issues all together (1998, 155). Books related to trades and management should be available to all members (1998, 154).
5. In Summary
I have described the conception of a company from different perspectives: the past, the present and the future. I supported the main factors that would contribute to a healthy and nourishing environment for the members and the customers. In fact, the actual organization structure, the task distribution, and the growing process of the company are in this report, the main points underlined by the importance of a flexible communication process.
Best, J. D. (1997).The Digital Organization.John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Caravatta, M. (1997). Let’s Work Smarter, not Harder. Milwaukee, WI: ASQ
Doltlich, D. L. & Noel, J. L. (1998).Action Learning.San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc.
Hendrickson, L. H. & Psaarouthakis, J. (1998).Dynamic Management of Growing Firms. The University of Michigan Press.
Koulopoulos, T. M. (1997).Smart Companies, Smart Tools. Glastonbury, CT: Van Nostrand Reihnhold.
Lipman-Blumen, J. & Leavitt H. L. (1999).Hot Groups. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Purser, R. E. & Cabana, S. (1998).The Self Managing Organization.New York, NY: The free Press, Simon & Schuster Inc.
Volberda, W. H. (1998).Building the Flexible Firm.New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
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1 Information taken from a brochure.